French skipper Clarisse Cremer has smashed Ellen MacArthur's 21 year old Vendée Globe race record, crossing the line in 87d 02h 24m 25s.

The Vendée Globe is only her second ocean yacht race in an IMOCA, but the performance of French skipper Clarisse Cremer clearly shows that her star is rising.

The 31-year-old solo skipper crossed the finish line aboard her IMOCA 60, Banque Populaire X outside Les Sables d’Olonne at 15:44 on 3 February 2021 with a race time of 87d 02h 24m 25s.

This smashes the previous record for the fastest female solo skipper to sail around the world in a monohull, which was set 21 years ago by Dame Ellen MacArthur, who completed the race in 94 days and four hours.

Overall Clarisse Cremer finishes in 12th place in the 2020 Vendée Globe, and is the first female entrant home.

“I never really felt like giving up,” she said.

Cremer holding a 31st birthday cake while taking part in the Vendee Globe

Clarisse Cremer celebrated her 31st birthday in the Pacific. Credit: Clarisse Cremer

“I learned to switch off my brain, continue to advance, eat, sleep and look after myself.”

The French sailor, a graduate of Paris’ elite HEC business school with a postgraduate business diploma from Kelley College, Indiana, USA, has certainly come a long way.

Seven years ago she had not even sailed her first Mini class race.

It was her future husband, Tanguy Le Turquais who gave her the taste for ocean racing.

The couple moved from Paris to Brittany, where Clarisse worked and supported him on his Mini programme

She competed solo for the first time in the 2017 Mini Transat, finishing second in the ‘series’ division, progressing to the Figaro class.

Banque Populaire then offered her the chance to skipper their IMOCA project, and sail Banque Populaire X.

The IMOCA 60 won the 2012-13 Vendée Globe race as MACIF in the hands of Francois Gabart.

Clarisse Cremer saw it as a golden opportunity, but realised she had to prove herself.

“I know that there were other skippers who could have taken up this role. Having this chance comes with responsibilities,” she said.

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She worked alongside Banque Populaire’s 2016-17 Vendée Globe race winning skipper Armel Le Cléac’h to learn about IMOCAs.

She finished sixth in the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre before sailing the boat singlehanded back to France ahead of her first solo race.

June’s Vendée Arctique Les Sables saw her cross the line in 12th place.

Cremer was certainly tested during the early days of the Vendée Globe after a series of fronts and tropical storm Theta left her needing to carry out repairs, particularly to her hydrogenerator, which had snapped off.

She openly talked about the times when she struggled.

“I’m afraid I’m going off my head. I know that each gale seriously affects the condition of my boat,” she told fans.

However, Cremer – who celebrated her 31st birthday in the Pacific Ocean – showed them same resourcefulness that led her to win when racing Minis and Figaros.

In the Southern Ocean, she faced a series of low-pressure systems and sailed along the edge of the Ice Exclusion Zone with waves in excess of 20 feet and winds of more than 40 knots.

A female skipper wearing wet weather gear on the deck of an IMOCA 60 during the Vendee GLobe

This is only Clarisse’s second offshore yacht race. Credit: Clarisse Cremer

She felt she had finally “obtained her stripes” when she rounded Cape Horn,  “relieved to have got that far without giving up.”

Cremer continued to press hard, passing Alan Roura (La Fabrique) and racing alongside Romain Attanasio (PURE-Best Western Hotels & Resort) before finally gaining the edge.

In the final week, she overtook Armel Tripon (L’Occcitane en Provence).

Racing back up the Atlantic was also challenging.

She had to overcome one of her fears, climbing the mast twice to repair her J2.

The Doldrums were also testing, before a final battle with big winds and heavy seas in the Bay of Biscay.

“If I could set off again around the world immediately, I would.” she said in recent days.

This is certainly just the start of Clarisse Cremer’s offshore racing career.

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